For my first entry, I quote a lengthy journal entry and all the pictures that they asked me to post.
Today was Fast Sunday. I started my fast last night after dinner, praying with a purpose before bed, waking often with worrisome dreams, praying back to sleep, and arising to pray early. My prayers were focused on my children, their progress, and on another family far, far away. Towards the end of Sacrament Meeting today, I felt impressed to share some thoughts during sacrament meeting. I’m usually not too emotional, but I was wrought before I went up, during, and afterwards. It wasn’t just spiritual prompting, but an emotional outpouring of burdens pent up and needing release.
I took a journey to Mexico last month, lasting 25 days and covering 4,000 miles. The idea for this journey originated a year ago when my married daughter (Corinna) and son-in-law (Erik), both teachers with the summer off, expressed a desire to return to his home town in Mexico with their infant son to celebrate Micah’s first birthday with his cousins. We weren’t sure how we would spend half of the time in Mexico, until some unexpected request appeared on Facebook; a long lost “brother” came back into our lives.
Twenty years ago, our two families took off on a sabbatical year to travel throughout the southwest in two trailers with 12 children under 10, and wound up in Cancun in southern Mexico. It was a bit crazy (I’m more than a bit crazy), but this “exodus picnic” had a purpose. We were seeking opportunities to spend more time as husbands and wives with our little children away from the business of our commercial lives, so we proclaimed an exodus and hit the road. It becomes increasingly difficult to gather our children around us as they get older, so we did it while they were young.
We shared a mutual goal to purify our hearts, but discovered that “approaching Zion” can be extremely challenging and painful. We aimed beyond the mark, and within a few years after returning to a more routine existence, both marriages broke up badly.
I lost touch with my friend who was once a close brother, until he recently contacted me via Facebook. Separated from his former spouse and 10 children, he had settled in southern Mexico. He had eked out an existence with his second wife, and their 7 beautiful children. I had to meet the new family.
Thus, for two weeks, we vacationed with friends and family in Mexico City, Cuernavaca, then met up with more family in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo in a comfortable condo, covering 1,500 miles across several states. After they went home, we took another journey, driving 2,500 miles across the expanse of southern Mexico through eight more states until we reached the Caribbean coast of Quintana Roo on the borders with Belize.
Meeting our friends and their children was both heartwarming and painful. As a family, they live simply, work together, and perform as a family band for their livelihood. The children were happy, respectful, and kind, and I will long treasure the few days we spent with all of them on the beaches and lagoons.
I affirmed my testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel through the organized Church, casting my faith in favor of following the current counsel. I had sought after and received a personal confirming witness that President Monson is called of God as the prophet, seer, and revelator for the world today.
I am grateful today that my prayers for my children bring me peace as they struggle to progress and grow. I am grateful that I know from experience and personal revelation that God lives and is interested me as an individual, that the atonement of Jesus Christ prepares me to be purified and return to his presence, that the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day saints is true, that our leadership is inspired, that I am on the right course.
We shared common ground surrounded by the love of our families, but I celebrate the indisputable certainty of a testimony of truth born of faith and obedience. I still grieve for them daily, and worry about their safety and progression. In contrast, I celebrate the progress my children are making. I see the hand of God in their lives, and praise the wisdom that answers my prayers with blessings on their heads for their faithfulness.